Beautiful Days 2006

Following a rather surreal journey we finally get in through the gates and the first sight of the weekend is a policeman snapping on a pair of blue latex gloves. Y’ouch! Thankfully we weren’t stopped.

deep ditch.jpg

Camp is at the furthest physical point from the car and I’m chuntering under my breath while lumping my beast of a tent (which weighs about 380kg). We manage to hijack a passing sherpa to do our dirty work. The Cornish flag is raised. Camp is set.

Beautiful Days really is beautiful. It’s held within the 220 acre grounds of Escot Park, Devon. The festival sits so snugly in the dips and hummocks of the estate that I can’t imagine what it must be like the rest of the year. The band behind its creation is the Levellers (mini swoon) and they kick things off on Friday afternoon in the Big Top with their offshoot acoustic group Drunk in Public. The oldies are dug up & dusted off and the crowd goes mad. Bloody fantastic stuff. The Boatman rocks.

By Friday evening copious amounts of Lager, Real Ale & Vodka has flowed, I managed to catch a snippet of Seth Lakeman before wobbling over to see Gomez winding up the crowd quite nicely. By this point I needed to find a reclined position as my skull was having its very own Ministry Moment. I slowly drifted off to sleep snuggled in sheepskins & the warm glow of alcoholic annihilation whilst being audibly caressed by Echo & the Bunnymen.

Saturdays mission was to forge a copper bangle with the guys from Escot Education. They are based at the site year round and arrange outdoor activity courses for adults and children. Their enviable location is perched atop a hill nestled under a canopy of ancient old trees & overlooking the main stage. Kids sit around a big camp fire whittling sticks, dads help toddlers make 3 legged wooden stools and the atmosphere is relaxed and chilled. Last year I spent hours & hours leaning up against a tree carving a wooden spoon out of a Hawthorn log. Lovely. The copper bangle turned out rather nicely, with 2 suns and a wave design on – obviously it immediately turned my already grubby wrist an unpleasant shade of green but apparently it’s good for your joints or something.

Normal%20behaviour.jpgAfter all the energy expended on playing blacksmith for half an hour I need fuel. Turned out to be great timing too as the heavens grumbled loudly and then burst. I ducked into the Buddhafields Café which I love. The food there is honest, great value and very, very tasty. Scoffed a huge bowl of summer squash soup with homemade bread washed down by the best cuppa I had all weekend. I also found out that you can volunteer for a couple of hours washing up in exchange for a meal. Nice. Eating a meal at Buddhafield becomes more a spiritual than gastronomic experience as the walls of the tent seem to vibrate with happiness and you feel like you’re putting a little bit of goodness back into your system. Thankyou Buddhafield!

Now, you’ll have to bear with me for the Saturday night fiasco. It’s being dredged from memory so any inaccuracies are quite expected. Things kicked off in the Big Top with 3 Daft Monkeys. WOW, first time I’ve seen them and they are awesome! It was so refreshing to see a girl on stage that was allowing herself to enjoy being there. I swear the smile never left her face! The music was corking and I will definitely be on the look out for these guys again.

The Proclaimers & Chumbawumba were both playing at the same time and sorry, but I didn’t get to either. I bumped into a festy-friend (These are the people that you never see in the outside world, but keep bumping into them at various festivals) and we tripped around the site ending up in the Pussy Parlure. An utterly camp venue, it’s like the hybrid love child of a Wild West saloon & a French brothel. We caught a fab trapeze act and then bimbled off to the Bimble Inn to see Mad Dog McRae. If you have never seen Mad Dog – you must. Enough said – they’re awesome.

A big thank you to Anne at this point for scraping me off the floor in the wee small hours and pointing me in the direction of my bed..........

Im not a religious woman but God, I thank you from the bottom of my sleeping bag for letting Sunday morning be cloudy and cool enough to remain wrapped in my nocturnal swaddling until midday. Admittedly, at 10.30am I am awoken by a bunch of numpties on main stage doing what I can only imagine to be called ‘tuning up’. They went through about 180 different instruments at least 20 times each. My head felt every single ‘toot’, not just in head pain but also in a physical thud that reverberated through my whole body, especially my gut. I’m not sure how I didn’t throw up. I wouldn’t have minded quite so much but the first band of the day wasn’t on until noon. By the time I finally recovered & arose I was feeling quite dastardly and immediately rose to the Carling Breakfast challenge. I never really stood a chance.

Sunday, I’m afraid is a little low on memories, not that it matters as the ONLY band worth staying in a field for was..................the Levellers!! They were on top form. Even the youngsters in the crowd sang along to Beautiful Days. They pulled 2 encores out of the hat before rounding up (I think) with Levelling the Land. Sadly didn’t play Battle of the Bean field which always gives me goose bumps, but I’ll let them off. Anyway, they were very good. Can I just say that in my mis-spent youth I left a Plymouth night club at 2am, drove over 200 miles to Brighton to see them play at the Beer Festival and then drove home to Cornwall that night. That’s how good they are. Thank you guys for a corking weekend of fun, frolics & festivities – can’t wait till next year! 

So, there we are. It’s all over for another year. I feel sad. When I wake up on Monday morning, neighbours that had become friends have already left, just a yellowing patch of squashed grass to show they were ever there at all. Slowly I pack up and even more slowly head off site. I don’t feel particularly comfortable driving the car, it feels all a bit unnatural. I decide to avoid the motorway and head back over Dartmoor which was beautiful. The heather is in flower and there are great swathes of purple. I stop at Postbridge, sit on a sun drenched rock with my toes in the coldest cleanest water and rinse off the dirt.


Beautiful Days 2007 - 17 – 19 August, Escot Park, Devon.


Word by Jannipops



Posted on Saturday, September 9, 2006 at 15:21 by Registered CommenterJam | Comments1 Comment